I first heard about a relatively new musical instrument called a hang in 2010 (I think it was) when by chance I came across Storia, a street musician who was busking in one of the quieter parts of the South Bank. I was captivated by the sound and since then I have read much about the hang (and the other instruments inspired by it, often known as handpans and steel tongue drums) and sought out the music of many fine players.
This search has lead me to some of the most absorbing, moving and inspirational music I think I’ve ever heard and I hope very much that, one fine day, the universe will see fit to send a handpan my way, so that I, too, may begin to make ‘singing steel’ music. As I wrote here, I’ve already been fortunate to have been given a small, steel tongue drum – although if I’m honest, I confess that I’m struggling with it, both in actually playing it (it seems to demand much more physical strength than I have) as well as with its Hijaz tuning (I’ve found it almost impossible to ‘connect’ with that scale and get any kind of a tune out of it).
Nonetheless, I try to count my blessings and not get too downhearted – easier said than done, sometimes, particularly when my illness demands so much of my personal resources – and at least I can take comfort and inspiration in the music of several talented players: Storia I’ve already mentioned; other favourites include Samantha Archer, Daniel Waples, Hang Massive – and in the last few months I’ve been listening a lot to an album called Kumea Sound, by Lauri Wuolio, who I believe is one of the most innovative, original and creative handpan players on the scene today.
Anyway, long story short: on my journey, I’ve come across a lively, well-established forum for handpan players (of all levels of experience) and some of its members regularly organise an annual meet-up in the US. For many reasons, that event is inaccessible to me, but thankfully a lot of of this year’s sessions have been recorded and made available to the rest of us – and I’ve been absolutely blown away by Lauri’s performance. So I wanted to add it here, mostly for my own ease-of-access, but also on the outside chance that anybody aside from me actually reads this blog, well, here you can hear for yourself what I think is some world-class handpan music.
The third track is a real highlight for me, but the fifth and final one just blows me away completely; I think it’s absolutely stunning. Thank you, Lauri, for the music…